By Anna Jauhola
Bob Cameron couldn’t believe the well-planned accommodations for his Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., earlier this month.
“We were well taken care of,” he said. “We had four beautiful buses, the police escorted us. It was professionally planned.”
The 84-year-old veteran served during the Korean Conflict and Cold War, and is the third Hallock veteran to attend the WDAY Honor Flight, which took place Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955, and then another six years in the Reserves.
The group left Hector International Airport at 8 a.m. on Sept. 30 and spent the next 40 hours or so in a whirlwind tour of the sights of our nation’s capital. The group of 100 veterans, their escorts, and numerous other volunteers toured the war memorials, presidential monuments and various other points of interest, including Arlington National Cemetery.
“I really think it was all awesome,” Cameron said of his trip. “However, the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, that was really quite a site to see. It was all highly emotional.”
He said the flight was comfortable and the veterans had all, if not more, comforts than home – if they needed refreshments, sandwiches or anything else, volunteers made those available.
Cameron’s daughter, Julie Lindegard, signed him up for the trip.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Cameron said with a smile. “I was thankful I was able to go. It was quite rewarding, I thought.”
His son, David, accompanied Cameron on the trip. David is also a veteran, though said he served during peace time in the 1980s, and considered this trip to be an honor.
“I thought, ‘I can’t believe I get to experience the honor flight,’” David said. “I felt like the luckiest guy in the world to go as a vet. I was looking forward to going to be with my dad.”
David loved seeing his dad interact with other veterans who served in war time and become instant friends. He never heard a single vet complain during the trip. He credits the people who coordinated the logistics of such a trip where no one experienced illness or an accident.
“The logistics alone were such a success. Those dozens of volunteers did an amazing job,” David said.
For both Cameron and his son, the topper on the whole trip was their arrival home.
Waiting to greet the war veterans were hundreds of people waving flags and cheering while a band played patriotic songs and cameras recorded the event.
“I get teary-eyed just thinking about it,” David said. “I really think if any vets harboring old troubles of when they came home from war or service and weren’t met very warmly, I think this homecoming helped sooth troubled minds.”
He added that he watched the old veterans, tired as they were, stand taller and stronger as they left the airport that day.
“It made you feel pretty good,” Cameron said of the reception.